The New Student's Reference Work/Onion
On′ion, a plant with a bulbous root, belonging to the lily family, is a valuable table vegetable which has been cultivated from the most ancient times. Its origin is unknown; but the plant may have come from northeastern Africa or western Asia, for it is mentioned in the writings of the ancient Egyptians. For the cultivation of onions the soil should be as loose as possible. Because a warm temperature is unnecessary, the onion is grown as a winter crop, especially in the southern part of the United States. It is usual to grow onions at the first in hot-beds and to plant them out when they have grown to about four inches. Otherwise, it is necessary to weed and thin them carefully when young. American white onions are milder and more popular than the yellow or the red varieties. Imported onions, as the Bermuda and the Spanish, are even better flavored; and these varieties are now extensively cultivated in the warmer parts of the United States. The potato-onion is a strongly flavored species, almost like garlic, and perennial. Onions are sometimes attacked by such insects as onion-maggots and onion-cutworms. Kerosene, ground-up tobacco-stems and nitrate of soda are used to overcome these pests, but it is well to root up the wilted plants and to rotate onions with other crops.